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Early referendum on York’s place in the NUS to be held

Image credit: www.marxiststudent.com
Image credit: www.marxiststudent.com
Image credit: www.marxiststudent.com

Ben Leatham, President of the University of York Student Union (YUSU) has today announced that a referendum on YUSU’s place in the National Union of Students (NUS) will be held.

YUSU holds a referendum every three years on York’s status in the NUS. However, in light of a large campaign for an early referendum, prompted by controversy at the most recent NUS conference, the student union has decided to bring the next referendum forward by a year.

Chris Wall, the incumbent YUSU Activities Officer, will be leading the campaign for York to remain part of the NUS; Robin Branham will oppose York’s membership and campaign for the YUSU to part ways with the national body.

James Humpish, the Policy Coordinator, stated:

We have decided to move ahead with this for a number of reasons. Firstly, we have noted that affiliation with the NUS affects every member of YUSU and continuing membership has become a contentious issue within campus with some voices for and against having been expressed earlier in the term. Having said this, a referendum provides the opportunity for every student to express their opinion on continued membership and by proposing this two weeks in advance, there is a healthy timeframe for both a ‘Stay’ and ‘Leave’ campaign to develop and effectively coordinate themselves so as to share their arguments for and against continued affiliation with the NUS. It was further noted that question of NUS membership has been raised in multiple universities across the country with some unions having decided to stay in the NUS and others deciding to leave. Holding a referendum provides capacity for students in York to demonstrate democratically where our university stands on the issue.

The student union will remain impartial on the matter; any opinions expressed by standing YUSU Officers are their private opinions as opposed to those of YUSU.

YUSU has announced a short list of key events between now and the end of the voting:

  • Monday 23rd May – online campaigning begins
  • Tuesday 31st May – physical campaigning Begins
  • Tuesday 31 May, 17:30 – 19:00 – official referendum debate in Physics Block, P/T/006
  • Wednesday 1 June – 10:00, voting opens
  • Wednesday 8 June – 17:00, voting closes
  • Thursday 9 June – results announced

‘York Says Yes to NUS’ states that York will suffer if it leaves the NUS, adding an emphasis to the financial losses that YUSU would experience. In particular, that prices in campus bars, including the Courtyard and the GlassHouse, will rise and major campaigns will be poorly-funded.

In contast, ‘No2NUS York’ states that the NUS “has become a self-serving organisation that works not to help students, but to divide and marginalise them.” The NUS, ‘No2NUS York’ argues, is an undemocratic that does not represent its members well. The NUS infamously rejected a policy proposal from YUSU, calling for a system of direct democracy (“One Member, One Vote” [OMOV]) in regulating its policy construction.

A summary of the case to remain in the NUS can be found here. A summary of the case to leave can be found here.